Jacqueline Dascal Chariff

06/05/2014 10:00 AM

05/21/2014 4:48 PM

Jacqueline Dascal Chariff does many things well, but when it comes to one of her off-the-clock passions, great food, she leaves the matter to professionals, plus a few pals. “I’m the queen of Miami restaurants,” she said with a laugh, adding that every few weeks she also calls on close friends, all of whom “are spectacular cooks,” and invites them to her Miami Beach home or to her family’s boat to dine, drink and be merry. But “I always joke that if you don’t know how to cook, I can’t be your friend. My friends have to do the cooking and I’ll supply the beautiful space—and the champagne,” she said. “What more is there to life than to enjoy it? I believe in happiness.”

She also believes in hard work, precisely the trait that’s helping the 54-year-old successful Miami businesswoman, who owns a company that distributes top beauty products to Latin America, take on her newest role: that of chairman at Continental National Bank, the country’s first Cuban-American-owned bank, launched 40 years ago by her father, Charles Dascal, who passed away in 2013. Since taking over the bank, which has some $400 million in assets, in March, Dascal Chariff’s had a full plate. Among her first tasks: refreshing the well-regarded bank’s image and offerings, renovating its seven branches, relaunching an improved website and adding online and mobile banking. Even more changes, she said, are in the works. Though she sat on the bank’s board of directors for a decade, becoming an actual banker was never in her original career plans. But Dascal Chariff admits she’s driven by the same penchant for serial entrepreneurship that drove her father. (Aside from the bank, the late Dascal also founded the South Motors automotive empire and became one of Miami’s most prolific philanthropists.) She launched her first business, an advertising company, when she was 21, still living at her parents’ home. “I operated it out of my bedroom,” she laughed. Later came a hair care line for Latinas, and then a distributorship of extreme sports equipment, both businesses now defunct. Still, “my father taught me persistence and perseverance,” and because of that “I’m fearless.” It’s the trait she now wants to pass on to her own 14-year-old daughter, Gabriella. “I tell her there is nothing she cannot do if she works hard enough.”

It’s a concept Dascal Chariff demonstrates every day. Weekday mornings, she’s up and working out by 7 a.m. By 8 a.m., she’s making calls to her business and banking executives, giving marching orders for the day. She works (either at home or in one of her two offices) until 3:30 p.m., when she picks up her daughter from school. “I’m very hands-on when it comes to her,” Dascal Chariff said. Then she goes right back to work, “until my husband tells me to stop,” she chuckled. Come the weekend, however, it’s time to unplug, something about which she is just as serious. It’s also time to devour some of that great food she loves. “For me,” she said, “it’s all about quality of life.”

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